The Canberra Liberals have said they would “unpick” the deal between the ACT Government and the National Capital Authority (NCA) to turn Curtin horse paddocks into land for embassies, if elected.
Canberra Liberals MLA Giulia Jones said the party would be “obstructionist” to ensure the land “goes back to the people of the ACT”.
“There’s plenty of land in Canberra for embassies, and it is not the top priority of the ACT Government to make land available to the NCA,” she said.
The Commonwealth secured the land in March this year, under a land swap deal that has paved the way for the ACT Government’s proposed development of West Basin at Lake Burley Griffin. The proposal includes an extension of the parkland, a boardwalk, and the development of a mixed-use residential and commercial precinct.
Leader of the Canberra Liberals Alistair Coe said West Basin could do with some improvements to amenities and a “café or two”. He said his vision does not include “skyscraper apartments as Andrew Barr obviously wants for the area” but did not rule out the possibility of residential development for the site.
“There is scope for community consultation that determines what is the best use of this wonderful National Capital asset,” he said.
“My vision for that precinct is a properly maintained green space where people can actually congregate and enjoy the National Capital and enjoy the lake.”
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said if the Canberra Liberals were to oppose the use of the Curtin horse paddocks land for embassies, it would then be a question of where the diplomatic estate would be built.
“It is well understood that there needs to be land set aside for a diplomatic estate, that’s our role, we’re the National Capital,” he said.
Mr Barr said there was no “large residential apartment development” planned for the West Basin area, and the rules for development south of Parkes Way are “very clear”.
“Ultimately, what people will see over the next five years is a few cafés and restaurants and a much larger green space in the Acton waterfront,” he said.
“What is allowed south of Parkes Way is much lower level development that doesn’t have a ground floor residential component.
“We want a place that people can use and a space where there might be some small-scale commercial activity.”